“Coalition” Hailed as Sign of Broad Support for GOP Health Care Plan Is Little More Than a Website

A group calling itself the One Nation Health Coalition is one of the only health care advocacy organizations heaping praise on House Speaker Paul Ryan’s health insurance overhaul legislation. It released a statement on Monday hailing the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as “built on the ABC’s of success,” and calling it a proposal that will “lower costs, expand access and increase choices by putting you — the individual — in charge.”

The organization has scored multiple television appearances on cable television over the last week, including on MSNBC and CNN. A press release quotes a column by Wall Street Journal opinion writer Kim Strassel claiming that the “fast growing” coalition is comprised of “elected officials, staffers, grass-roots groups, think tanks, trade associations, donors and corporations.”

Last week, when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer argued that his party’s health care proposal enjoys broad levels of support, he listed conservative groups that “have been very supportive” of the GOP health care plan. One Nation Health Coalition was one of the four he named.

But citing the coalition as evidence of broad support is pure fantasy. The group doesn’t appear to have much of a membership or a following beyond a small handful of former Republican staff members, think-tank pundits and vendors brought together just for Ryan and his plan.

The organization has not released a membership list, conceals its website registration using an anonymous proxy site, and its foundation documents were registered last Tuesday, within 24 hours of the public release of the GOP health plan.

Requests for comment to One Nation Health Coalition Senior Adviser David Hoppe, a former lobbyist to health insurance firm Aon Corporation and former chief of staff to Speaker Ryan, were not returned.

The spokesperson for the group, John Hart, also a former Republican staff member, did not respond to a request for comment, either.

The about page of the One Nation Health Coalition provides virtually no information beyond a one-sentence description about its goal of promoting “the passage of health reform legislation that provides for the health, health care and wellbeing of all Americans,” with no information about those involved.

The page is illustrated with an image of men and women of various ethnicities and ages beaming huge smiles. The picture is a stock photograph from iStock Getty Images, called “Diversity People Group Team Union Concept – Stock image” that can be purchased for $12.

Strassel essentially unveiled the group with her gushing column in the Wall Street Journal last month, which came out even as many conservatives were splitting with Ryan because they feel it would not go far enough in repealing the Affordable Care Act.

“One Nation Health is a clearinghouse, a place for conservatives to meet, share notes, craft messages for the public, and unite on talking points,” Strassel wrote. “It will facilitate progress between Congress and the White House.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Moffit, a health care expert who praised then-Gov. Mitt Romney’s proposal of the individual mandate, is involved with the coalition. Another think tank expert, James Capretta, maintains an affiliation with the group. Louis Brown, an attorney with a Christian health organization, is also part of the effort. Brown appeared at the White House with President Donald Trump to support Trump’s health plan at a live-streamed press event.

The governing board of the group, filings show, includes David Wilson, the chief executive of Asset Health, a firm that provides insurance firms with employee health education management services, two officials from a law firm that specializes in setting up nonprofit organizations, and Daniel Perrin, a longtime GOP activist. According to his LinkedIn profile, Perrin is the president of the HSA Coalition, an organization that was previously backed by insurance companies to promote health savings accounts — a tax savings system vastly expanded by the GOP plan. In 2013, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington called on authorities to investigate one of Perrin’s groups for failing to file the required disclosure reports after engaging in election activity.

As we’ve reported, Republican leadership has found difficulty gaining support for their plan beyond a few select industries that gain financially from the proposal, such as health insurers and medical device companies.

In a press release unveiling conservative support for the American Health Care Act, Ryan cited only one right-of-center advocacy group endorsing the effort: Americans for Tax Reform. That organization, notably, has received funding from General Electric, a company that has long lobbied for a repeal of the medical device tax — a key provision of Ryan’s legislation.

On Tuesday, following the Congressional Budget Office’s report predicting the AHCA would have devastating impact on health insurance coverage, as well as hike premiums for low-income seniors, the coalition promoted an attack on the nonpartisan office, referring to a page that highlighting the CBO’s alleged “uneven reliability when it comes to providing estimates.”

The post “Coalition” Hailed as Sign of Broad Support for GOP Health Care Plan Is Little More Than a Website appeared first on The Intercept.

Timor-Leste could be ‘architect of its own demise’, gas treaty inquiry told

The ripping up of gas treaty in pursuit of a greater share of revenue from Sunrise gas field could create a failed state if no new agreement is forged, expert says

Timor-Leste’s decision to rip up a treaty with Australia on the carve-up of future revenue from Greater Sunrise oil and gas reserve in the Timor Sea could make it an “architect of its own demise”, experts have told a parliamentary inquiry.

In January Timor-Leste announced it wished to terminate the treaty which split future revenue 50-50 with Australia and put a 50-year moratorium on a permanent maritime boundary.

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Adobe, Microsoft Push Critical Security Fixes

Adobe and Microsoft each pushed out security updates for their products today. Adobe plugged at least seven security holes in its Flash Player software. Microsoft, which delayed last month’s Patch Tuesday until today, issued an unusually large number of update bundles (18) to fix dozens of flaws in Windows and associated software.

brokenwindowsMicrosoft’s patch to fix at least five critical bugs in the Windows file-sharing service is bound to make a great deal of companies nervous before they get around to deploying this week’s patches. Most organizations block internal file-sharing networks from talking directly to their Internet-facing networks, but these flaws could be exploited by a malicious computer worm to spread very quickly once inside an organization with a great many unpatched Windows systems.

Another critical patch (MS17-013) covers a slew of dangerous vulnerabilities in the way Windows handles certain image files. Malware or miscreants could exploit the flaws to foist malicious software without any action on the part the user, aside from perhaps just browsing to a hacked or booby-trapped Web site.

According to a blog post at the SANS Internet Storm Center, the image-handling flaw is one of six bulletins Microsoft released today which include vulnerabilities that have either already been made public or that are already being exploited. Several of these are in Internet Explorer (CVE 2017-0008/MS17-006) and/or Microsoft Edge (CVE-2017-0037/MS17-007).

For a more in-depth look at today’s updates from Microsoft, check out this post from security vendor Qualys.

And as per usual, Adobe used Patch Tuesday as an occasion to release updates for its Flash Player software. The latest update brings Flash to v. 25.0.0.127 for Windows, Mac and Linux users alike. If you have Flash installed, you should update, hobble or remove Flash as soon as possible. To see which version of Flash your browser may have installed, check out this page.

brokenflash-aThe smartest option is probably to ditch the program once and for all and significantly increase the security of your system in the process. An extremely powerful and buggy program that binds itself to the browser, Flash is a favorite target of attackers and malware. For some ideas about how to hobble or do without Flash (as well as slightly less radical solutions) check out A Month Without Adobe Flash Player.

If you choose to keep Flash, please update it today. The most recent versions of Flash should be available from the Flash home page. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer may need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (Firefox, Opera, e.g.).

Chrome and IE should auto-install the latest Flash version on browser restart (users may need to manually check for updates in and/or restart the browser to get the latest Flash version). Chrome users may need to restart the browser to install or automatically download the latest version. When in doubt, click the vertical three dot icon to the right of the URL bar, select “Help,” then “About Chrome”: If there is an update available, Chrome should install it then.

Finally, Adobe also issued a patch for its Shockwave Player, which is another program you should probably ditch if you don’t have a specific need for it. The long and short of it is that Shockwave often contains the same exploitable Flash bugs but doesn’t get patched anywhere near as often as Flash. Please read Why You Should Ditch Adobe Shockwave if you have any doubts on this front.

As always, if you experience any issues downloading or installing any of these updates, please leave a note about it in the comments below.